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Like father, like son

Liverpool FC goalkeeper Pepe Reina will be following in the footsteps of his father Miguel when he takes to the pitch against AC Milan on Wednesday evening.

When Pepe Reina runs out on to the pitch at the Athens Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night for his first European final the Liverpool FC goalkeeper might be excused a few nerves.

Whatever he feels, though, will be nothing compared to his father Miguel high up in the stands. Miguel Reina was a goalkeeper himself and played in a losing cause for Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1974 European Champion Clubs' Cup final. Playing at the highest level is one thing, watching your son do the same is quite another. "I don't think I can remember ever being as nervous as I get watching my son," Miguel said.

'Calm down'
Thankfully the form of Reina junior since joining Liverpool at the start of last season has given little reason for anxiety. He helped Liverpool FC win the FA Cup on penalties last May and 12 months on faced a shoot-out duel with Petr Čech for a place in the UEFA Champions League showpiece. "That's when I calm down as I believe in Pepe and I was absolutely sure he would come out on top." Reina, proved his dad right, saving from Arjen Robben and Geremi to send Liverpool through to Athens.

Hard work
Explaining his son's success from spot-kicks, Miguel said: "It's a bit of everything, it's also the study of the game. Pepe watches a lot of football. How do they kick? Where do they place the ball? It's the best happiness a father can have. Pepe has got his prize through constant hard work." It is something Miguel instilled in his son since first recognising his potential at an early age.

'Extraordinary talent'
"I found out when he was six playing football at home. He wanted to be a forward but I told him it wasn't very good being an attacking player because people would be kicking him throughout the game. I told him he had an extraordinary talent to be a keeper. I started training him from that moment. When he was a kid I taught him more than just how to stop penalties. I taught him how to position his hands to stop the ball, how to fall and how to save with different parts of the body."

The hard work paid off. Miguel started his career in the FC Barcelona youth set-up and he returned there to introduce his son to the coaching team of Carles Rexach and Johan Cruyff. After a trial, Pepe signed for the Catalan club aged 13. "We are five brothers and I am the only one to play football so it's a dream come true for him," says Pepe. "He always says I'm better than him, but all I want is to be like him first as a person and as a goalie."

Miguel's European Cup final experience ended in heartache. He conceded a last-minute goal against FC Bayern München which forced a replay, which Atlético lost 4-0. Now Pepe has the chance to make amends. So what advice would Miguel give him going into the final? "To keep playing with the same confidence and belief in himself. It's just another match. If he's successful at the end of the 90 minutes we'll thank God, if not…that's life." Not that that will stop the nerves come kick-off. "I always get nervous. It's not something I can control - it's beyond me. I'll try this time to keep as calm as possible."

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